An Unexpected Adventure

April, 2022
View on Chimney Tops from Route US 441
The school spring break had already begun when my son suddenly asked me if I had planned a trip somewhere. The question caught me off guard. There were no plans, but my day job allowed to take a few day-offs, and after a quick discussion, we decided to visit the Great Smoky Mountains.
In less than two days, we were on the road to our destination with a simple list of things to do and see. The main idea was to make decisions based on weather conditions and circumstances.
To document our adventure, I brought my Canon EOS1 with a 40mm pancake lens and two rolls of film: ILFORD HP5+ and Fuji C200.
Day One: Arrival and Hiking to Chimney Tops
Upon arrival, we stopped at the Sugarland Visitor Center, where rangers informed us that Clingmans Dome Road was still closed. With that options taken down from our list and more time to explore nearby destinations, we came across a beautiful hike to the Chimney Tops.
At the Sugarland Visitor Center
At the Chimney Tops Overlook
West Prong Little Pigeon River
Forest Along the Chimney Tops Trail
Chimpey Tops
Gaining Elevation
After hiking down to the parking lot, we drove to the Tennessee-North Carolina border, where I replaced the finished roll of black and white film with a color one.
Evening at Newfound Gap Overlook
Day Two: Roarking Fork and Cades Cove
The morning plan was to explore the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. We spent almost an hour driving around local mountain roads before we found the entrance to the area next to the hotel where we spent the night!
Stream Crossing
Our first stop was at the Noah 'Bud' Ogle place, where we walked around and inside the old house and barn. Then we took a short trail adjacent to the settlement and returned to our car.
Despite the overcast weather and rain in the forecast, we decided to hike the Rainbow Trail as far as we could and spent the next two hours climbing up to the mountains along Le Conte Creek until the rain had not turned into snowfall.
Noah 'Bud' Ogle Cabin and Blooming Dogwood
Old Barn
White Trillium along a Nature Trail
Wild Turkey
In the afternoon, we were back on the road with an idea to get to another side of the mountains to North Carolina and Cherokee Indians. Unfortunately, the snowfall we encountered on the trail was just a beginning of a storm that resulted in the road closure. So we resorted to another option: visiting Cades Cove. We drove the loop road and made a few stops to take a closer look at the historic buildings.
Road Closure
Cades Cove
Missionary Baptist Church
Grazing Horses
A Whitetail Dear
Natural Bridge, Virginia
We left the park late in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day on the road back to Virginia. By midnight, we were still quite far from home and stopped at a hotel, which, as I discovered in the morning, was only fifteen minutes away from the Natural Bridge. We took that as a sign and made this place our final destination for this unexpected adventure.
Back to Journal